To hit on a point we've been slamming for a couple of weeks now...the Yankees' lineup is just outrageously good right now. If you take a step back and look at say, the Yankees' last decade, you see that they finally returned to euphoria last year because they received the sort of quality postseason starting pitching that eluded them for all of those title-less years.
The 2009 postseason, however, was largely sporadic and unimpressive from an offensive standpoint, with the veteran players doing the heavy lifting and younger players like Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira delivering room-service narratives to the yakosphere (copyright Neil Best) about their ability to hit in the clutch.
Now, though, the young players - Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner, newcomer Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira - all are performing very well. All contributed to the Yankees' game-turning, five-run, eighth-inning rally.
--Plenty of good stuff on our Yankees blog. What interests me the most is what the Yankees do with CC Sabathia, moving forward. Does he start Game 4? Is it more likely if the Yankees lose the next two?
Ninety-three pitches for Sabathia is like Richie G. and me playing catch in the park for 15 minutes. It's not exactly a maximum workload. OK, I'm exaggerating, but I think Girardi had Game 4 in mind when lifting Sabathia after four innings.
"No, not necessarily," Girardi said afterwards when I asked him about this - confirmation that this is the case. "...He worked extremely hard."
When I followed by asking him if Sabathia's early exit make a Game 4 start more likely, Girardi said, "I'm worried about Game 2." Uh huh.
Terrific work, meanwhile, by the Yankees bullpen. Remember when it wasn't clear why the Yankees were even promoting Dustin Moseley from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barres, when Moseley had the chance to exercise an opt-out in his contract? That move looks better now. Shoot, Moseley could wind up starting a World Series game if A.J. Burnett does start Game 4 and falters.
--Ron Washington. What was he doing in that eighth inning? Ay yi yi.
Ironically, I had asked him prior to the game about how much he enjoyed the late-inning matchups. Here's what he said: "More than anything else, I love when our starters can get us through seven. Because once we get to the eighth and ninth inning, I think I have the matchups, no matter what they are, to get it to relief at the end."
Instead, he was on his fifth pitcher in the eighth inning before the Yankees even made an out.
The most questionable sequence: Washington went to former (very briefly) Met Darren O'Day to pitch to Alex Rodriguez with one run already in and the bases loaded. That was fine. The sidewinding O'Day devours righties (.233 OBP/.509 SLG/.542 OPS), and A-Rod was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts lifetime against O'Day.
A-Rod smashed the first pitch he saw past his old buddy Michael Young at third base, bringing in two runs with the single to close Texas' lead to 5-4 and sending Teixeira to second base. Up came Robinson Cano. He has never faced O'Day, but O'Day faced 76 lefty hitters this year and limited them to .289/.271/.561.
But Washington went to lefty Clay Rapada, a journeyman who had limited lefties to .143/.053/.195 in 21 plate appearances. Nevertheless, it was Rapada's postseason debut, and Cano has proven this year that he can handle lefties (.343/.514/.857). So it wasn't much of a surprise when Cano drove home Teixeira with the tying run on a single to centerfield.
Meanwhile, where was Neftali Feliz in all this? "He's never done anything like that," Washington said, referring to a six-out save. "I wouldn't do that. I had the people I wanted in the game. They didn't get it done. It happens."
I will say this for Washington: He looked remarkably calm afterwards. Had the situation been reversed, Joe Girardi would've looked like Paul Rudd in this scene from "Wet Hot American Summer."
--In news that is very much "off the field," Jason Giambi is on the government's witness list for next spring's Barry Bonds hearing. If both the Bonds case and the Roger Clemens begin as scheduled next year - Bonds March 21 in San Francisco and Clemens April 5 in Washington - that will make for some truly fascinating theater. Wonder how much attention it would take away from the actual baseball season.
ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson doesn't think much of the government's case against Bonds.
--Live chat Monday at noon. Spread the word.
--Have a great day.